Londoners Warned They Face Tighter Covid Rules as Cases Rise

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Covid-19 infections are rising in London, as authorities warned the capital faces tougher restrictions unless residents stick to the rules and control the disease.

The government is due to review the restrictions on Dec. 16 and could impose tighter curbs on regions where cases are rising.

“If you look at what’s happening in London, for instance, we are seeing that disease starting to climb again in spite of all the efforts we’ve made,” Johnson said in a video released on Twitter on Tuesday. It is “vital” people keep their “discipline” as vaccinations are rolled out across the country, he said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday the capital could be moved from Tier 2 into the highest Tier 3 level of restrictions next week if people don’t follow social distancing rules.

Pubs and restaurants are currently allowed to open in London under Tier 2 rules, as long as they serve alcohol with substantial meals. Theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys and museums are also allowed to operate.

Under Tier 3, all pubs, restaurants, indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. That would be a huge blow to the capital’s hospitality and entertainment industry so soon after England’s four-week lockdown ended on Dec. 2.

During the final week of the national lockdown, 15,200 people tested positive for coronavirus in London, according to the most recent data compiled by the mayor’s office. That is a rate of 170 cases per 100,000 population, compared to 149 cases per 100,000 for England as a whole.

But there are big differences in infection rates across the city. Havering, a district in the east, recorded 319 cases per 100,000 in the week ending Dec. 2, compared to 79 in Richmond-upon-Thames, a wealthy area in the west.

That has led some lawmakers to call for a more localized approach when the government reviews regional restrictions next week. Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, last month asked Johnson in Parliament not to “treat us all as one unit”.

The prime minister replied that the “virus is no respecter of borough boundaries” and it made sense to place the whole of London in the same tier as it is joined together by its transport network.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said decisions on tiers were based on a “range of criteria, including how quickly case rates are going up or down, cases in the over-60s, pressure on the NHS and local circumstances.” The government said it will review tiering allocations every 14 days.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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